Catalog Archive
Auction 196, Lot 747

"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Early Printing

Period: 1510 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4.9 x 7.2 inches
12.4 x 18.3 cm
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This leaf is from the brief transitional period when the new technology of printing with movable type was combined with the more labor intensive methods of hand painting. The earliest printers were trained in the manuscript tradition and incorporated the conventions of historiated initials and illustrations into their early work. At first they left those spaces blank for the illuminator to complete entirely by hand. Later they developed printing methods (using woodcuts or iron engravings) to decorate the leaves.

A rare vellum leaf from a Book of Hours, made during the transitional period when printing and illumination were combined. The printers at that time used the same type of letters that were used by the scribes, so the result looked like a manuscript. The initials, line fillers and border were then added by hand. This leaf includes a superb border decoration with leaves, flowers and scrolls on both sides, as well as a miniatures vignette on each side. Beginning adjacent to the vignette on recto is part of Matthew 2, when the Magi visit the Messiah, which translates as:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”


Condition: A

Minor soiling.

Estimate: $475 - $600

Sold for: $425

Closed on 2/7/2024